Ennio Morricone occupies a unique place in the history of twentieth-century music. He is without question one of the world's most successful, and brilliant, composers for film, although he continues to write surprising music for the concert hall as well.
On set, Leone relied for atmosphere upon tapes of Ennio Morricone’s main musical themes, which, this time, had all been written, performed and recorded in advance: ‘Everyone acted with the music, followed its rhythm, and suffered with its “aggravating” qualities, which grind the nerves.’
Leone had started discussing the music for Once Upon a Time in America immediately after completing Giù la testa, and the score was more or less complete by 1975-6, seven years before a foot of film was shot, which must be a record.
Ennio Morricone has written some of the cinema's most- recognizable and best-loved film scores including the recent Sergio Leone's "Once Upon a Time in America". Here he is interviewed by Sue Adler.